Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A great time to expand your palate

I have spent the last several days in Palm Desert, CA at a junior tennis tournament with my son and with a lot of downtime between matches. I have had a chance to talk with a lot of people from this area of the country about how the economy is here and how it is affecting them. There is one word that continues to come up time and time again. Everyone is talking about the “values” that are available now. Million dollar homes here are selling for 300-$400,000. Everyone is saying how people with cash are getting incredible “buys”!

In reading about the state of the wine industry in the world I hear the exact same thing. There are great values right now. Many of the French wineries are getting ready to ship their newest vintages with stockpiles of the previous year. They are feeling the pressure to move their wines. Imports to the US from Europe, South America and Australia are down.

It has been my experience that everyone has a “threshold” of what they will pay for wines. For some it is $20 a bottle while others it may be $120. Or, your threshold may even be $300 a bottle. Over a period of time people’s buying habits revolve around their personal price point threshold. Given the economic climate we are currently in, many of those thresholds do not hold up anymore. People may be saying that they are not ready to give up the lifestyle surrounding wine and food but they are much more aware of the price they are paying. This fact opens a great door of opportunity. This situation encourages exploration. People are trying new wines and looking for great wines at lower prices. This is a great time to be a wine consumer. While many countries are experiencing drops in exports of their products, a country like Chile is experiencing an increase in export of their wines. If you are use to paying $60-$80 for a bottle of Pinot from Washington or Europe, Chile is importing some really great wines in the $40 or lower range.

It is also great time to try some lesser known varietals that do not command higher prices of the better known varietals. Some of the little lesser know grapes of Italy come at a great value with incredible taste. Varietals such as Primitivo are less popular amongst the general population and come at a lower price point and should be explored. Higher prices do not always mean better wines. There are so many cases where varietals that are in less demand command less in pricing but are not of poorer quality.

This is a great time to expand your palate. Try something new and explore. There are great values out there and incredible wines waiting to be tasted.

Glen Agritelley